(1 April 2016)
Emma and I go to the hospital. She in her stolen uniform, me with a pistol concealed in a cheap cast.
Head nurse scolds Emma for missing her shift. She apologizes, we make our way to Silazzio’s office. He’s resistant to our attempts to speak with him, until we name drop the Chosen, and Mexico City. He tries to hold our message hostage in exchange for his notes, but we persuade him that we could go to Bangkok, share his notes with others. Simultaneously, E and I both state that IF Donovan shows up, maybe we’ll share his notes. He resignedly agrees to talk to Donovan.
What are we going to use to prove our value to Donovan?
Meanwhile, the Professor and Vivian go scout out the St Christopher garden, looking for dangerous or good spots to meet and speak with Donovan. Trees, windowless buildings block most sightlines.
As we leave the hospital, an orderly seems to be trailing us. I make eye contact, he drops away, stops following us.
During the afternoon, we take some trolley trips, looking for the chalk mark that will indicate Donovan has agreed. Emma and I see nothing, mid-afternoon. Dinnertime, Vivian and the Professor get o the trolley, are glared at by striking woman with platinum hair, cold green eyes. No sign, but they pick a stop at random to get off and walk around. Woman is rummaging in her handbag, not watching them.
We spend the night preparing. Sketching out some diagrams from a couple of the books we have. Retrieve the half-vial of nectar we have, to offer that as proof of our “chosen”-ness. The Professor spends the evening making a smoke grenade, and a small bomb.
Emma and I return to the trolley. A large chalk X is marked on a sign. It is happening.
Preparation: next ship to the mainland leaving at 7 pm. Passage booked. Vivian drops her car, and its dynamite, near the warehouse. (No point leaving it near Donovan’s mansion).
At park, Emma and I seated together, the other two are elsewhere.
Right at noon, 6 men show up. The same we saw back at Silazzio’s house. Mr. Nice Suit beelines to us, with Donovan. Others disperse.
He seems to have been on better terms with Trammel. Dismissive of Brooks and his music. We persuade him that we’re interested not only in participating/getting back into the cult, but also starting our own operation.
He invites us back to his townhouse, along with his goons.
First floor is servant’s area. Staircase up the stairs. Very ugly goon comes with us directly, the others spread themselves out in the building. As we walk in, see gargoyles perched on top of house, which wrong for this architecture. Eastern European grotesques on an italo-british townhouse? That’s suspicious.
V notices glyphs, protections. Vivian and the Professor see that the front door has been reinforced against explosives.
Up to the second floor. Living room. Plenty of furniture. Donovan tries to find out what our story is; I relate some incomplete truths about Job leading us to Brooks. (Trammel? “I don’t want to talk about that asshole.”) Donovan offers us an indulgence of Nectar.
I pass, relating a story about bootleggers who made their fortune by not indulging in their own merchandise. Emma engages him in conversation—apparently Donovan’s “font” produces a purer Nectar, which produces a religious fervor and passion.
They’ve been looking for the Maw of the Mouth for quite some time. Can’t find it. Believe they’re trying to harness the full power of a being, and need to find the Maw to do so. Donovan claims the Maw is reachable…will open when the moon is dark, the stars shine down on its home…somewhere deep within the earth. Or some strange and remote location? Trammell and company have been searching for quite some time.
How did Donovan get started? He began through Trammel. Knew Ecchevaria. Was “forever changed” when Ecchevaria and company summoned a creature. Then Trammell and Donovan spent years summoning the fount in Los Angeles. Will take years without a source to get started on a Mouth. Around 1930, Trammell sent Brooks and Donovan out into the world.
Donovan is obsessed with fervor. Likes to talk. Tells us that his fount all but dried up, spoke to him and told him to make a great sacrifice. Nearly offered his child…but pushed his wife into the mouth instead. He breaks down in authentic tears. Sacrifice worked, even more Nectar than ever before. Later his son fell ill. Nothing seems to cure him. Fount again spoke to him, in his dead wife’s voice, gave him Salazzio’s ritual.
We tell him that we want proof…won’t drink with him until we have seen a fount. Until he’s “show me a miracle”. He glows with fanaticism. Leads us upstairs to the Master Bedroom. Two gargoyles in the bedroom. Motion in the room…motion on the gargoyles. A smaller mouth, writhing, flailing.
(The Professor reacts…poorly. Vivian also startled. Emma and I grimly unphased.)
The smaller mouths can cause some acidic burning, smaller bite marks, no real nectar.
Donovan is insisting on us drinking. But only one guard here. Emma tries to negotiate down to one of us drinking. She succeeds…he hands a vial of Nectar to Emma. Then grabs another one himself.
“Bottoms up!” He tosses his down, Emma tosses hers down too.
Emma: heart rate rises, she starts feeling a wonderful euphoria, certain that this is right, this is how she’s supposed to feel. Feeling a spiritual awakening. Outwardly…she’s flushed, breathing heavily, slightly dazed. Nothing wanton.
Donovan demonstrates no ill effects. Happy to see Emma partaking.
Says every font is different, has different effects.
He is now willing to take us to the Font.
Separate cars. I maneuver Emma to a different vehicle, not with Donovan. Emma excited, eager to worship.
Donovan unaffected because he’s always high.
We are allowed into the parking lot of warehouse.
Vivian is warned to be careful, stick to the gravel path.
We arrange a moment, a final discussion, in which I persuade Emma that the vial which the Knight gave us is special, was saved for this moment, special, will make her experience at the mouth unbelievable. She buys it, agrees to drink the “catalyst” when she reaches the mouth.
We walk along the path, which is thronged by mouths all making an unearthly noise, like what we heard from the goons that chased us in Savanna. Humming the nawatul folk song helps. Emma is rejoicing. The professor seems bothered.
Donovan reveals that the grounds are covered by these mouths.
Donovan leads us in, says they’re expecting the arrival of a ship bound for the continent. Huge room, crates and crates of Nectar. Plus other glass vials.
Through the crates, a raised portion of the warehouse; atop the stairs, a woman in black, platinum blonde hair, looking down and shaking her head. Another 20-odd people…”supplicants”… in the warehouse, moving crates around. Stairs leading further down. We follow him down below.
Three guards, plus Donovan. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, he’s got an assembly line down here. Keep passing stations where someone is hard at work filling bottles. Long dark shadows among the tunnels, the piled crates. Vivian increasingly on edge, though composes herself at the end.
Finally, a shrine, or a sanctuary. Painted with Knights of Malta murals. Floor is flooded knee-deep with Nectar.
The Mouth is growing out of the ceiling of this chamber, Nectar pouring out of its mouth. Emma, Vivian deeply affected, the Professor is shaken. I taste blood, from my bitten tongue as I barely hold it together.
The Professor swears, but manages to pull off a lie about being surprised by the power.
With the distraction, Emma downs the “catalyst”. The Nectar effects are gone instantly, but she’s still drawn to it, wants more…feeling conflicted—wants more, but also horrified by the appalling mouth in its terrible language.
I turn to a guard, while Donovan revels. I try to insinuate a bribe. He doesn’t get it.
I sucker punch him, draw my gun. Other guards draw their guns. Vivian draws hers. I shout at them to take a bribe and leave, or we’ll all end up unhappy.
The Mouth spews Nectar at me, but I dodge. Call to the Professor, try to get him to throw a smoke grenade. He throws his bomb, instead. His little bomb hits the mouth, deals 8 points of damage.
The tongue recoils, the mouth shrieks, Donovan shoots at Vivian. He barely misses. Emma rushed Donovan, tries to shove him into the Nectar. Tackles him to the ground. Another guard shoots at the Professor, hits him hard in the shoulder. Guy who I hit punches me back, which hurts. Last guard shoots at Emma, hits, again a solid wound. Vivian shoots at a guard, takes him out with a good shot.
The idiot punched me. I punch him back. In the face. With a fucking bullet, because this is a gun fight, not a fist fight. You idiot. But the blood, the spattering….I hadn’t seen it that close before. Not so…bloody. It shakes me.
Vivian suddenly screams, drops her gun, freaking out wildly, incoherently.
Emma wrestling with Donovan.
The Professor grabs for Vivian’s gun, actually hits the last guard with a pinpoint shot. Guard topples, while Vivian is on her knees, frantically reciting her rosary.
The Mouth spits Nectar at Emma, but she dodges out of the way, and the Nectar hits Donovan in the face. He’s delighted, but also tries to hit Emma again, flopping around.
I take aim, and shoot Donovan dead. It doesn’t get easier.
Pursuit coming down the tunnels. There’s a flimsy door to the side of the room. I tell the professor to toss his smokebomb down the tunnel, where the shouting is coming from. Emma manages to calm Vivian down, somehow. Another tunnel, with a gross pool of water in front of us, and beyond that, an incline into darkness.
We rush down the tunnel; Emma is delayed in the water. A guard comes out, shouts, shoots, but misses. We tumble painfully down the rockslide. We’re in a low, crowded, propped up chamber. Narrow pathway through the pillars. Vivian is convinced that she is someone named Pal.
We have a hard time trying to crawl around the catacombs, but after a number of missteps we manage to get back to the Hospitaler tunnels. We make our way back to Godfrey’s shrine.
We get there, but no Godfrey. Pal is comforted, lots of Christian iconography hereabouts. Emma starts to patch up the Professor. I’m shaken. Pal is still wholly confused. And apparently a naïve churchgirl. She’s charmed when Godfrey comes in, but he’s confused.
We sum up what happened: Murphy: “We talked our way into Donovan’s warehouse.” Emma: “And shot our way out.”
What next? We could make our way to the 7pm boat…
Decide to wait at the shrine, talk things out.